I’ve been wanting to rent this documentary for ages but have never got around to it until last night. I knew I’d enjoy it because it’s about New York’s legendary street-style photographer Bill Cunningham. Bill, who is in his eighties, has been documenting New York City’s socialites and bag ladies since the ’60s and still writes two columns for The New York Times.
One of Bill’s classic quotes in the doco is: “The best fashion show is on the street – always has been and always will be.” Until recently he lived in a tiny office in Carnegie Hall with no kitchen or bathroom surrounded by filing cabinets filled with negatives of his works over the years. Interestingly he still shoots all of his photographs on film – not digital.
Bill includes a little audio commentary with his columns as part of his New York Times
column. There are some funny moments in the film when Bill is shown recording these
segments. Take a listen to a few of them here.
Bill rides the streets of New York on a simple push bike wearing his trademark blue jacket which he reveals in the doco is actually a French street sweeper’s uniform.
After dropping out of Harvard, Bill became a women’s hatmaker and wrote for publications including Women’s Wear Daily and Details magazines before landing a job at The New York Times more than 20 years ago.
The docu follows Bill dodging cars and people as he snaps average New Yorkers on the street. The film starts with Bill saying he is always searching for some intriguing individual or ‘bird of paradise’ that tells a story with her clothing.
There are many poignant parts in the film and one is where he talks about how he loved shooting the flower power era in the ’70s with all the amazing colour but he laughs as he tells how all of his images of this time are actually in black and white as he couldn’t afford colour film.
I thoroughly enjoyed this film. Have you seen this film? I’d love to hear what you thought of it.